You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2, verse 22.
Do our faith and actions work together? I get easily irritated. Little things lying around the house (that could easily be put away), folks who dirty dishes but don’t then wash them, the lack of common sense that seems to pervade the political world these days, rushing around all weekend without having time to really relax and do what I want to do, feeling like I’m constantly batting cleanup for folks who haven’t done their part, clothes that don’t get folded, constantly tight money: that’s a small list of things that irritate me.
It’s also a perfect illustration of how faith and actions don’t work together. You see, those petty irritations? They really are petty. They don’t really matter in the grand scheme of living life, even though larger lives are built of doing and saying thousands of small things. In the more important scheme, though, it does matter because when our spoken faith doesn’t match our acted-out life, there’s a problem.
Do you think it’s ok for someone who professes to really, really love & follow Jesus to get so irritated at things that really don’t have much to do with how the world spins around? Me neither.
I suspect James would agree. I don’t like getting dressed down, but I think James would give me one, and it is deserved. I’m guilty of advancing the petty. In his lesson, he talked about how Abraham’s faith was followed through by his willingness to sacrifice the son of his promised inheritance. Abraham held nothing back from God, and he was rewarded for that. The lesson he left for all of us is that God wants us to do the same. Jesus doesn’t just want our small, petty stuff: He wants ALL our stuff, large and small. He wants us to hold nothing back, to keep back nothing for ourselves. And He wants what we say and do to jive. If you think about it, that isn’t asking for a lot. It’s asking for simple honesty.
I think He wants me to loosen up a bit, too. It’s ok if a few dishes are sitting around. It isn’t a character flaw of mine to want them clean in my own house any more than it’s not a character flaw of someone to leave them sitting there dirty. Dishes aren’t souls, and souls matter. The flaw would be in either of us making those things more important than the love we share together, the love the Jesus entrusts to us.
Loving Jesus, I want my faith in You and the things I do to match. Help me to never say one thing while doing another. Forgive me where I mess this up.
How do your words and deeds not match?
What’s the biggest way this has recently happened to you?
Have you sought forgiveness from the person(s) affected, and have you forgiven them…or yourself?